Chelsea face an anxious wait to find a new buyer to take control of the club after billionaire owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government
Chelsea run the risk of not being able to cover their monthly costs after owner Roman Abramovich’s assets were frozen under sanctions handed out by the UK government, a finance expert has warned.
The Blues had been put up for sale by Abramovich at the beginning of March due to fears he would no longer be able to control the club amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
It was announced on Thursday the Russian billionaire had been included on a list of hundreds of oligarchs sanctioned for their ties with president Vladimir Putin, with the 55-year-old’s financial assets frozen — including Chelsea.
The sale of the club has been put on hold but the club can continue to operate on a day-to-day basis, paying wages to players and staff, although they are not allowed to receive any income while Abramovich is still owner.
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That leaves Chelsea in a precarious position, with income from ticketing, sale of merchandise and other revenue streams no longer funding their daily operation.
According to finance expert Kieran Maguire, Chelsea had relied upon Abramovich to fund them on occasions when costs has risen — and now face an uncertain period of trying to manage the club’s coffers without him.
“Chelsea have already received the vast amount of money they would expect to generate through the course of a season,” football finance expert Maguire said, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Season-ticket holders have paid their money in advance, as have the sponsors, as have the kit manufacturers. Also most of the broadcast money has already been transferred across.
“Under the terms of the government licence, that money is not being prevented from going to Chelsea. Those are the positives.
“The challenges are that Chelsea’s wage bill is around about £28m a month. We don’t know how much money there is in Chelsea’s bank account.
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“Historically, Roman Abramovich has always underwritten those months where Chelsea have been unable to afford the wage bill themselves. That is a significant unknown.”
A report from The Sun claimed that Chelsea face the prospect of potentially going out of business in 81 days’ time, unless Abramovich finds a buyer to take control of the club.
Under the terms of the club’s special licence, they have until May 31 to find a new owner for the west London outfit, with several parties making their interest publicly known over the past two weeks.
The official spokesperson for the Prime Minister said: “A specific licence can be granted to allow any sale to proceed.
“But under no circumstance would any sale allow Roman Abramovich to profit from that or take any money from that sale.”
It remains to be seen what the true extent of Chelsea’s income freeze could have on the future of the club and the club confirmed in a statement that they would seek talks with the government to clarify what the licence means for its future.
The statement read: “We will fulfil our men’s and women’s team fixtures today against Norwich and West Ham, respectively, and intend to engage in discussions with the UK Government regarding the scope of the licence.
“This will include seeking permission for the licence to be amended in order to allow the Club to operate as normal as possible.
“We will also be seeking guidance from the UK Government on the impact of these measures on the Chelsea Foundation and its important work in our communities.”